I saw the film on Tuesday; don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it.
I thought it was going to be like The Notebook, and it was. But I really hoped that it would be more like High Fidelity or something. Reading the book the soundtrack could have been amazing, all this fantastic edgy 90s music, punk and grunge and rock and Iggy Pop and The Doors and all sorts. They’re referred to constantly in the book itself, aren’t they? That and some beautiful Lieder and string quartets and some seriously powerful classical music, rather than the insipid gushy violins and piano score that the film got instead. And there are all these scenes in dodgy bars, and drugs and alcohol and Henry, in the book, can be something of a twat. And Clare’s family are so much more complicated than the happy Republican front they present. There are so many threads in the book which were completely left out, I felt, until all that was left was the actual love story which in some ways is almost the least interesting aspect of the book, despite being to the reader, of course, the most important. All that stuff with Henry’s ex-girlfriend, Ingrid, that could have been interesting.
Furthermore the actual characterisation of Henry and Clare in the film is so much more shallow than in the book. They could have been far more interesting in the film without changing too much but Henry is Mr Perfect, St Boyfriend, and Clare is so utterly pathetic. There is nothing more to her in the film than ‘I am pretty, I love you, and I want a baby *stricken look*’. In fact, the reason the book was so good was that all the characters were believably flawed and the film just lost all that character and spark and it turned into yet another weepy love story. I was hoping to see more of Gomez and Charisse, too, they were brilliant characters in the book.
Anyway, like I say, I enjoyed it, and it made me cry, as it should have done, at all the right moments. I also love that last scene with Clare as an old woman and I was sad to see that missing; the ending of the film, I thought, was a bit flat. And why change the school trip from a gallery to a zoo, really? And Henry’s hypothermia – I swear it was more serious in the book.
It was good, yes, but it honestly didn’t in any way match up to the book, which I’m going to have to re-read now so that I’m not stuck forever thinking of Henry as the positively eggy Eric Bana, or Clare as feline, dippy, shallow Rachel McAdams.